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Serena Williams @ Tennisrulz!! Latest news

Serena Williams was born in Saginaw, Michigan, on September 26, 1981, but she and her sister were raised in the economically depressed and often violence-riddled Los Angeles suburb of Compton. Her father Richard ran a private security firm, and her mother Oracene (who often uses the name Brandy) was a nurse. A fan of televised tennis, Richard Williams dreamed of the opportunities that might await his offspring-to-be: "I went to my wife and said, 'Let's have kids and make them tennis players,'" he told Newsweek. His ambitions went nowhere with the first three of his five daughters, but Venus, born in 1980, and Serena, the youngest daughter, showed promise from the start. "Venus and Serena took to tennis as soon as rackets were put in their hands," older sister Lyndrea told Sport magazine. The sisters' early training took place on public tennis courts in and around Compton, where they remember having to duck gunfire. Despite this difficult beginning, though, their skills developed rapidly. Serena entered her first tournament at the age of four and a half, and over the next five years, her father has claimed, she won 46 of 49 tournaments she entered. She succeeded Venus as the number-one player in southern California's highly competitive age-12-and-under rankings, and well before reaching adolescence both sisters had attracted national attention in the form of invitations to prestigious tennis camps, promises of lucrative product-endorsement deals, and glowing newspaper reportage. Leaving the junior circuit In 1991 Richard Williams, who remains manager and coach to both Serena and Venus, made the first of several unorthodox moves in regard to his daughters' career: he decided that they should enter no more tournaments on the national junior circuit. Junior tournaments are the usual path to stardom for young tennis players, so Serena's development as a player took place to some degree in isolation from her peers. Richard Williams has said that he hoped to avoid subjecting his daughters to competitive pressures, including an undertone of racial hostility (although they say they have not encountered overt racism as professional players). Serena and Venus were sent to the Florida tennis academy of teaching pro Ric Macci, who had also worked with teenage standouts Jennifer Capriati and Mary Pierce, and thanks to Richard's canny handling of a clothing endorsement deal, the family was able to move to a rambling estate in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. In 1993 both girls left school and continued their education at home. Going professional at 14 After raising eyebrows by pulling his daughters out of the junior circuit, Richard Williams once again stirred talk in the tennis world by allowing them to turn professional at the age of 14. Still banned from World Tennis Association events at that age, Serena made her professional debut in October of 1995 at the non-WTA Bell Challenge in Vanier, Quebec, Canada, losing in less than an hour to a virtual unknown. But her father, who has defenders as well as critics on the tennis circuit, offered constant encouragement, and the play of both sisters improved dramatically. "Nobody knows those girls better than their parents the road they've gone on couldn't have been better selected," legendary coach Nick Bollettieri told Newsweek. By 1998 Venus was one of the top ten players in the world. Serena, ranked number 304 in 1997, made her first big splash that year with a victory over second seed Monica Seles at an Ameritech-sponsored tournament in Chicago. Sisters: partners in competition By 1999 Serena's world ranking had risen as high as number 21, and both Serena and Venus Williams were bona-fide celebrities. Serena served notice that her time had come when she advanced to the semifinals of a Sydney, Australia tournament by beating the then second-ranked woman in the world, Lindsay Davenport, who went on to become the United States Open champion that year. Expected to do well in her first "Grand Slam" tournament, the Australian Open, she had the bad luck of having to face her sister Venus in the second round after ousting sixth seed Irina Spirlea in the first. Venus emerged victorious, and Essence magazine reported that she was heard to say, "I'm sorry I had to take you out, Serena," as the two sisters walked off the court. It seems likely that whatever the unorthodox twists of their young careers, the success of the Williams sisters has come in part from having each other as training partners, confidantes, and occasional rivals. "They haven't admitted to it, but there's definitely a competitiveness between Serena and Venus," former U.S. Open finalist Pam Shriver told Sport. "They motivate each other and feed off each other's successes. Venus' jump to a No. 10 ranking has definitely inspired Serena to improve her ranking," she continued. Indeed, many observers of the two sisters have been moved to wonder which of them might in the end become the stronger player, and some have answered the question in Serena's favor, noting her deep competitive drive and her powerful physique. "Serena seems built to last," Newsweek noted, pointing out that "her more compact, muscular frame is ideal for a powerful, all-around game." Such speculations must have placed pressure on Serena and Venus as they embarked on a tough summer of tournament play in 1998, and major championships eluded them both. Serena suffered through ups and downs in her game in a 6-3, 0-6, 7-5 loss to Spirlea at the U.S. Open in New York; the contest had been widely heralded as a grudge match after Spirlea had collided with Venus during a court changeover in an earlier tournament, but went off without incident. Although known for antagonizing her fellow players, Serena's brash confidence, charisma, and impressive physical appearance made her attractive to the advertising departments of major corporations, and she signed a deal worth roughly $12 million with the Puma sporting-goods concern. An intelligent and energetic teenager with interests in many fields outside of tennis she hopes to become a movie star in time she could contemplate many different paths when thinking about her future. Richard Williams was even quoted as saying in Jet that he hoped his daughters would quit tennis and move on to other things. "My great moments are in the future," she told Sport. "I have a lot of photos in my scrapbook, but I'm waiting for the right cover shot. It has to be huge, like winning a big title," she concluded. Champion of the 1999 U.S. Open On September 11, 1999, Serena won the U.S. Open after performing outstandingly throughout the tournament. She is the first African American woman to claim a Grand Slam singles title since Althea Gibson in 1958. After the tournament, she received a call from President Clinton and also talked to the president's daughter, Chelsea. The prize for the tournament was $750,000. The next day, Serena and her sister Venus won the doubles title at the U.S. Open. The sisters had previously won five career women's doubles titles together. There is a special connection between them as players. During the last singles match, Serena momentarily faltered. "She [Venus] was up there supporting me," Serena said. "After I lost my first two match points, I looked over to not my mom or dad, I saw them also, but I say Venus over there really making sure, pumping me up. It really helped me, so." Recently Serena has been kept busy obviously by her tennis but also by other things such as classes she's taking and also her current boyfriend, movie producer Brett Rattner!